I have been trying to motivate myself to write another blog entry, but for some reason I haven’t been able to concentrate. Also, people seem to be enjoying the photos, and like they say, a picture says a thousand words. Annoyingly, my last batch of photos didn’t work but thankfully they are now! Did the bit of film come up?
Anyway, once again I have done a lot of things over the last few days, starting on Monday night when I went on the Harlem Jazz and Soul Food tour. I went on this tour with Deborah, and that was really nice of her because she isn’t a tourist and it could have been really boring. But luckily it wasn’t!
The tour was hosted by a middle aged French woman who sounded like her favourite pastime was smoking. There was one Australian couple, who were friendly but somewhat quiet, four women from California who were grand-daughter, mother, grand-mother and friend, a couple of French people, an English couple and a wild and wacky Londoner named Daisy.
To get to Harlem we had to drive past Central Park, which was the first time I had seen its entire length. My God, it’s huge!!! It just kept on going and going and going for about 10 blocks. The tour guide gave the history of Harlem and I did take some of it in, I swear, but it’s been two days and my brain isn’t working at the moment (blame it on that time of the month and having to wait for a lift for 20 minutes because the other one was broken down). The bus stopped on the main street of Harlem and we wandered around for 20 minutes. I overheard a big black guy talking on his phone about just getting out of jail and being sick of being stuck in a small room. I think Deborah took a photo of him and I avoided eye contact. There was great graffiti on the walls, quite artistic and there was an award ceremony going on at the local theatre. It was for young adults who had done community work throughout the last year.
We then hopped back on the bus and went to Sylvia’s, a soul food restaurant that’s been around for a very long time. I did take photos of the food but I don’t think they give justice to how good the food was. I had cornbread for the first time and it was just like cake and with butter it was amazing! The fried chicken was one of the best things I’d ever eaten and the potato salad was creamy with little crunchy bits of spring onion. It was also the first time that I tried banana pudding and while I liked the consistency of it, I am still questioning whether I liked the taste or not.
It’s always hard being witha goup of people who you don’t know, but I made the effort to talk to people (who could speak English) and one of the girls from California is a teacher for troubled students who had been kicked out of school and wanted to get their GED. They only have class once a week and meet with the teacher once a week and some of them don’t finish, but some of them do. It was just interesting because I watched Precious and that’s what happened to the main character.
After dinner we went on to the Cotton Club. The Cotton Club has been around since the 70’s and is an institution for Jazz music, however it seems that most of the clientele are tourists. The space was big, the lights were low and there was a full band. A big man with a terrible poneytail was the MC and he was very funny. A fifteen year old boy came out on stage and played guitar and sang. Then another guy came out on stage and tapped dance for like 20 minutes and sang as well! Then a group of dancers came out on stage and tapped along with him. There were two impressive black female singers, but I think it were the men who blew me away. I was on such a high from the evening and soaked it all up.
The next day I worked but in the evening I went to Bryant Park and the Rockefeller Center with Kait. Before I tell you about them I have to mention that I walked there – all up 20 blocks(nearly 1.6k)! Yes, I took breaks and yes, we sat in Bryant Park for a while, but I still walked it and for me that is a record.I am very proud of myself.
Bryant Park is not so big, but it is beautiful and surrounded by lovely buildings. There is a ferris wheel, two little cafes and lots of tables and chairs for people to sit on. The weather was still quite warm but there was a breeze and it was great to people watch. While it is so close to Times Square is feels very distant and very peaceful. During winter they have little stalls set up where they sell hot chocolate and other yum things.
On our way to the Rockefeller Center we passed the diamond district, where I saw a lot of Jews. I think I was a little underwhelmed when we got there. Maybe it was because I was tired or my expectations were too high. There were a lot of people, mainly tourists and the NBC shop was closed! I wanted to buy presents for my cousins but hopefully I will go back there soon. Most of the buildings are filled with employees from NBC and studios where they tape their shows. Kait and I had dinner outside of a restaurant where during winter thereis usually an ice-skating rink and a big christmas tree. There was a beautiful water fountain that changed colours. After dinner (finally, I had a steak!) we looked around a little but I was still so tired from the night before and I was going to have a big day the next day, that we had an early night.
Yesterday was a big day for me emotionally and I want to write about it, however I feel that this entry is too big already. So wait for part B of this entry.